Walter J. Phillips
Canadian (born in England), 1884–1963
Lake O'Hara from Odaray, 1936
watercolour on paper
39.5 x 57.3 cm Image: 37.6 x 54.7 cm
Collection of the Winnipeg Art Gallery
Emigrating from England in 1912, Walter Phillips settled in Winnipeg and soon established himself as a skilled and distinguished watercolourist and printmaker. Phillips travelled extensively, but the Prairies remained home and the source of most of his imagery until the 1940s, when he began teaching summer classes at the Banff School of Art in Alberta. He resettled in Banff permanently in 1948. Phillips’ able handling of his medium blends an older tradition of watercolour landscape painting with contemporary sensibility. Lake O’Hara from Odaray exhibits the carefully crafted, jewel-like luminosity perfected by earlier English-born watercolourists, like Frederic Bell-Smith, who had been drawn to the Rockies. At the same time, the vibrant and clearly delineated areas of colour in the WAG work show the influence of traditional Japanese woodblock prints, filtered through Post-Impressionist design.